Nearly a week after the oil spill due to collision of two ships off Chennai’s coast, hundreds of volunteers have removed about 60 tonnes of sludge in a massive clean-up effort.
The strong winds and waves have caused the oil spill to spread as it has crossed the Marina Beach and is moving to other beaches in Chennai.
After the collision between two ships took place near Chennai's Kamarajar Port, more than 20 tonnes of thick oil spilled into the Bay of Bengal, affecting the marine life and a 30-km stretch of shoreline.
The Coast Guard said: "It is estimated that more than 20 tonnes of oil has spilt from MT Dawn Kanchipuram as against the initial report of two-three tonnes."
Hundreds of volunteers including students from engineering colleges and fishermen are involved in clearing the thick sludge that machines have failed to remove. Oil spill dispersants and neutralisers are being sprayed by Coast guard ships and choppers.On Thursday, the Coast Guard said tremendous progress had been made and no major oil patches were seen seawards.
The clean up work on a war-footing was carried out in several areas, including the Ennore shoreline, Marina and Elliots beaches by multiple agencies including Coast Guard along with the help of volunteers and local people.
“Approximately 1,100 personnel braving the hot sun came forward and assisted in removal of approximately 21 tonnes of oil with sludge and about 17 tonnes of sand mixed with sludge, sand mixed with oil and oil mixed with water,” a Coast Guard release said.
“At present, no significant oil patches are observed seawards from Ennore to Mahabalipuram. Only sheen of oil can be seen at some places which is likely to clear off in one or two days. Tremendous progress has been made towards sludge removal,” it said.
Apart from Coast Guard, personnel from Tamil Nadu Police Coastal Security Group, pollution control board, fire and rescue department, state Highways, port trust, corporation, panchayat besides volunteers from various colleges, universities and NGOs joined the operation.
The mishap had occurred when M T BW Maple, with a flag of Isle of Man, was leaving after emptying Liquefied Petroleum Gas and M T Dawn, Kanchipuram, loaded with petroleum oil lubricant (POL), was on its way to berth at the suburban port, formerly Ennore port.
(With inputs from PTI)